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Morehouse Parish Reservoir

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New Morehouse Reservoir Feasibility 48 (created by R.S. 38:3087.192)

SENATE BILL NO. 829 ACT 233 in 2003

BY SEN. BARHAM AND Rep. MCDONALD & Francis C. Thompson

Study ($10,000 Local Match) (Morehouse) Payable from General Obligation Bonds

Priority 1 $ 300,000

Morehouse Parish Police Jury

 

Morehouse Parish Lake Commission

 

Morehouse Parish Lake Commission members appointed 1/28/05

 

Articles in Bastrop Daily Enterprise

Area projects make cut in capital outlay
If sessions of the Louisiana Legislature were like a track meet, funding projects through the capital outlay process would be the 400 meter hurdles: Run as fast as you can as long as you can and clear all the obstacles to win. State Rep. Charles McDo... - May. 31, 2005

Good&Bad News: Equine center gets outlay funds; no money included for lake work
The initial draft of the state's annual capital outlay bill is a "good news, bad news" scenario for Morehouse Parish projects. Rep. Charles McDonald, D-Perryville, said House Bill 2 contains funding for completion of the parish equine center but has ... - May. 6, 2005

Lake foes voice concerns before parish Police Jury
Monday's meeting of the Morehouse Parish Police Jury was the latest skirmish between foes of the proposed Morehouse Parish Reservoir and supporters of the project. Lake Commission chairman Richard Patrick squared off with opponents of the proect, who... - Apr. 13, 2005

Permit process will provide answers
Morehouse Parish Lake Commission chairman Richard Patrick realizes supporters - and especially opponents - are seeking answers to questions about the proposed 5,500-acre lake. He admits that he and other members of the commission do as well. During ... - Apr. 1, 2005

Idea of tax for lake work not well received
A state legislator says local funds will be needed to complete the proposed $35 million Morehouse Parish Reservoir. It is unlikely any of the 80 concerned citizens who met Thursday night at Tilou Baptist Church would be willing to pay a possible tax ... - Mar. 18, 2005

Foes of proposed reservoire hope to have voice
Foes of the proposed Morehouse Parish Reservoir are rallying the opposition. The group has schedule a meeting March 17 to voice their concerns about the proposed $35 million project that is being touted as an economic development engine for the area'... - Mar. 16, 2005

State Parks people get lake progress report
The Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism Office of State Parks is in the process of updating its master plan for the Chemin-A-Haut State Park, and they want to make certain their plans concur with the proposed development of the Pl... - Feb. 18, 2005

Friends seek federal cash infusion
Supporters of a project to renovate the old Bastrop High School into a 60-unit apartment complex for seniors are hopeful the state's improved status in Congress can help secure the balance of money needed for the $7.1 million project. With most of th...  Feb. 18, 2005

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Next phase of lake work nears completion
Plans for the 5,600-acre Plum Lake Reservoir project in Morehouse Parish have moved to phase two according to Richard Patrick, chairman of the lake commission. "We've almost completed the preliminary study, and now we're looking into the environmenta...
bastrop.townnews.com/articles/2004/08/31/news/news1.txt - 2.7K - Aug. 31, 2004;

 

Lake commission inquiry ends
Assistant District Attorney Dion Young announced Tuesday that after reviewing the request from the Morehouse Parish Police Jury to file an immediate injunction against Richard Patrick and the Lake Commission, there is no legal reason to do so. The Le...
bastrop.townnews.com/articles/2004/02/19/news/news1.txt - 1.5K - Feb. 19, 2004;

Jurors attempt to put hold on lake commission
In a special session called by the Morehouse Parish Police Jury Friday afternoon the jury requested the district attorney's office to file an immediate injunction to have the Morehouse Parish Lake Commission Chairman Richard Patrick "cease and desist...
bastrop.townnews.com/articles/2004/02/02/news/news3.txt - 1.5K - Feb. 2, 2004;

Lake commission sworn in
Morehouse Parish is step closer to having its new reservoir. The Morehouse Parish Lake Commission was officially sworn in Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Hibernia National Bank by Clerk of Court Carol Jones. The Morehouse Parish Lake Commission is comprised of ...
bastrop.townnews.com/articles/2003/08/19/news/export1908.txt - 1.7K - Aug. 19, 2003;

Mike Thompson excited about Poverty Point Lake
Mike Thompson, executive director of the Poverty Point Reservoir District, gets excited when discussing his pet project, Poverty Point Lake. Located two miles north of Delhi, the 3,000-acre lake is the fruition of a long-term plan. First of all, the ...
bastrop.townnews.com/articles/2002/06/19/news/export1533.txt - 2.7K - Jun. 19, 2002;

Locals tour area Reservoir
A delegation from Morehouse Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO) traveled to Poverty Point Reservoir near Delhi, to tour the lake and visit with Mike Thompson, Executive Director of Poverty Point Reservoir, who gave them a tour of the 3,000-acre ...
bastrop.townnews.com/articles/2002/05/01/news/export1623.txt - 2.7K - May. 1, 2002;

 

Thompson bill
State Representative Francis Thompson passed legislation during the recently concluded regular session that offers incentives to developers of retirement communities. The legislation authorizes the State Board of Commerce and Industry to enter into a...
bastrop.townnews.com/articles/2002/07/03/news/export1457.txt - 1.3K - Jul. 3, 2002;

 

Board OKs application for bonds
The Bastrop Board of Aldermen gave their approval to the city's application to sell $1.5 million in bonds. Mayor Clarence Hawkins said the bonds - to be repaid with sales and property tax revenue collected later this year and early next year - are ne...
bastrop.townnews.com/articles/2004/07/09/news/news2.txt - 3.0K - Jul. 9, 2004;

Locals ask Alexander for lake assistance
Fifth District Rep. Rodney Alexander said if area residents and tourists want to fish and ski on the proposed Plum Lake Reservoir, that's well and good. But the Quitman Democrat says if area leaders want federal help with the $30 million project, it ...
bastrop.townnews.com/articles/2004/07/07/news/news2.txt - 2.5K - Jul. 7, 2004;

Local projects get full funding
Lagniappe, in Louisiana, has grown to mean getting or giving a little something extra. The Morehouse Council on Aging fits the definition after Rep. Charles McDonald was able to add $10,000 to the $36,000 previously allocated for capital improvements...
bastrop.townnews.com/articles/2004/06/23/news/news10.txt - 1.9K - Jun. 23, 2004;

First hurdle cleared in project funding
Vicky Carpenter is unabashed. "I cried tears of joy when I got the e-mail," said Carpenter, president of the Friends of Main Street when she learned State Rep. Charles McDonald had secured $150,000 in funds for the Bastrop Farmers' Market project. Mc...
bastrop.townnews.com/articles/2004/05/26/news/news4.txt - 2.6K - May. 26, 2004;

McDonald pitching for project funding
State Rep. Charles McDonald is "cautiously optimistic" funds for area projects can be salvaged in the Legislature's capital outlay process. McDonald, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, said this morning Commissioner of Administration J...
bastrop.townnews.com/articles/2004/05/24/news/news2.txt - 2.1K - May. 24, 2004;

 Fate of funding could be known tonight
The fate of funding from the Louisiana Legislature for two area projects should be known by this evening. The full House of Representatives will consider House Bill 1 - the general budget - and House Bill 2, which handles capital outlay projects and ...
bastrop.townnews.com/articles/2004/05/20/news/news4.txt - 2.0K - May. 20, 2004;

Vision group gets progress reports
Staff report They're helping shape the future of Morehouse Parish, and they want you to know what they're doing. Formed last year, the community vision group holds monthly meetings to address a variety of issues its members feel are vital to the pres...
bastrop.townnews.com/articles/2004/04/21/news/news5.txt - 4.3K - Apr. 21, 2004;

Alexander introduces resevoir legislation
Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Congressman Rodney Alexander (D-Quitman) Thursday met with Bastrop Mayor Clarence W. Hawkins to announce that he has introduced legislation in the 108th Congress which would allow the creation of a reservoir to supply Bastrop...
bastrop.townnews.com/articles/2003/05/16/news/export2102.txt - 2.5K - May. 16, 2003;

Economic study of a parish lake commissioned by MEDCO
staff report Morehouse Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO) President Richard Patrick announced today that the Morehouse Parish Lake Committee has commissioned an economic impact study to identify and quantify the economic benefits that the devel...bastrop.townnews.com/articles/2002/12/18/news/export1269.txt - 1.2K - Dec. 18, 2002;

Parish on list for funding
Probably the largest state capital outlay funding request in the history of Morehouse Parish has made its way into Gov. Mike Foster's capital outlay budget, which was introduced Thursday in Baton Rouge, according to Rep. Charles McDonald. In an early...
bastrop.townnews.com/articles/2002/05/10/news/export1639.txt - 2.6K - May. 10, 2002;

The view from Bonita
The prospect of a lake or reservoir being located in Morehouse Parish has Bonita officials excited.

 Such an undertaking will very likely alleviate the predicted water shortage,

attract people and businesses associated with outdoor activities, and con...
bastrop.townnews.com/articles/2001/01/24/news/export481.txt - 6.4K - Jan. 24, 2001;

 

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Next phase of lake work nears completion

By brixel777@aol.com">JACOB CUNNINGHAM Staff Writer  Aug. 31, 2004;

Plans for the 5,600-acre Plum Lake Reservoir project in Morehouse Parish have moved to phase two according to Richard Patrick, chairman of the lake commission.

"We've almost completed the preliminary study, and now we're looking into the environmental issues," Patrick said.

Denmon Engineering of Monroe is conducting a survey of three prospective sites in Morehouse Parish, two in the Chemin -A-Haut basin and one in the Cypress Bayou basin. Environment engineers will inspect the three sites and give Denmon a report on issues such as wetlands in the areas, endangered specie and overall environmental impact. That report will be compiled with studies on cost, effects to residents, the ability to hold water, and cultural concerns (such as graveyards, historical buildings, or Indian mounds). Denmon will use this information to give the lake commission a recommended site, which company officials say should be ready in September.

The lake was originally proposed by the Morehouse Economic Development Corporation.

"We were reviewing the overall economic situation of Morehouse Parish and we discovered early on that the parish has an unhealthy dependence on International Paper," Patrick said.

According to MEDCO, IP either directly or indirectly provides 30 percent of the income and a third of all jobs in the parish.

"We need to be looking at other avenues for the parish," Patrick said, "With many aquifers being depleted faster than they are replenished a community with a replenisheable source of water will be in good shape."

The proposed lake should be able to hold 25 billion gallons of water, able to recharge 30 million gallons daily. This would offset the use of 14 billion gallons used daily from the Sparta aquifer. It's estimated cost is about $30 million.

"The lake will be primarily to provide a reliable and sustainable source of potable water," Patrick said, "secondary will be the economic and recreational benefits."

According to MEDCO, the lake should produce 29 miles of shoreline and create 150 new jobs. The lake could also generate $12 million a year in revenue.

A plan proposed for after the lake's completion calls for an addition to the lake might extend into southern Arkansas.

"We are looking at that concept and met with representatives last week, we would have to coordinate funding and other issues between the two states," Patrick said. "Right now, we want to focus on Morehouse Parish."

Lake commission inquiry ends

By DEE TUBBS, Staff Writer  Feb. 19, 2004;

Assistant District Attorney Dion Young announced Tuesday that after reviewing the request from the Morehouse Parish Police Jury to file an immediate injunction against Richard Patrick and the Lake Commission, there is no legal reason to do so.

The Legislative Act, 233, that created the lake commission gives them the authority to negotiate and execute contracts.

"They (the lake commission) applied for the funds and the funds will be sent to them." advised Young. "They did however, violate the Open Meeting Law." The Open Meetings Law states that all public bodies, except for the legislature and its committees and subcommittees, shall give written public notice of any regular, special, or rescheduled meeting no later than 24 hours before the meeting. This notice is to be posted at the principal office of the public body holding the meeting, or if no such office exists, at the building at which the meeting is to be held; or by publication of the notice in an official journal of the public body no less than 24 hours before the meeting.

Jerry Johnson, president of the Morehouse Parish Police Jury advised "They (the DA's office) did not find anything illegal about the lake commission's process, therefore the investigation is closed. I would advise the lake commission to proceed with caution, as far as the open meeting laws are concerned, to make sure that they are following the law."


Jurors attempt to put hold on lake commission

By Lydia Tilbury Hair, Editor  Feb. 2, 2004;

In a special session called by the Morehouse Parish Police Jury Friday afternoon the jury requested the district attorney's office to file an immediate injunction to have the Morehouse Parish Lake Commission Chairman Richard Patrick "cease and desist all actions, decisions and voting processes" that may obligate or expend any funds received from the State of Louisiana for the planning and construction of a reservoir in Morehouse Parish.

The request, jurors said, is being made until the ownership issue of funding can be resolved and until it is determined that the actions and meetings of Patrick and Lake Commission were conducted within the laws and regulations of the state and parish.

The resolution was introduced by Juror D.W. Thomas (Dist. 4) and seconded by Ben White (Dist. 1). Voting for the resolution were Thomas, Bernie Turner ( (Dist. 5), White, and Lee Loche (Dist 7). Voting against was Terry Matthews (Dist. 6). Juror Harry Reese (Dist. 2) was not present.

"I appeared before the police jury and put them in presence of the facts as they exist. The basis for the resolution is without merit and has no basis in fact and sends the wrong message," Patrick said this morning. "We are preceding the with the plan. I do not think it will slow things down. I have talked to several people this morning, we are going to move forward and we are making progress. We have come a long way."

Lake commission sworn in

By AMANDA SIMS, Staff Writer Aug. 19, 2003;

Morehouse Parish is step closer to having its new reservoir. The Morehouse Parish Lake Commission was officially sworn in Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Hibernia National Bank by Clerk of Court Carol Jones.

The Morehouse Parish Lake Commission is comprised of Richard Patrick, Venoy Kinnaird, Ivory Smith, Billy Rabon, Frank Messinger, Alex Rankin, Mike Lytle, Leo Nelson and Mike Wooden. "Our first steps will be to elect officers, form committees to get into the project management stage and set up timelines for the project," said Richard Patrick, Executive Director of Morehouse Economic Development District and Lake Commissioner. Officers elected yesterday are Commission Chairman Richard Patrick, Secretary Mike Wooden and Treasurer Leo Nelson.

"We have done an economic impact study and this lake should create 140 jobs and add $10-$12 million to our economy in the parish. The primary purpose of the lake will be to give us a reliable and sustainable source of water," said Patrick. He further advised that the lake, which will be about 4500 acres in size, will provide eight billion gallons of water per year and that the parish is currently using three billion gallons per year, exclusive of agriculture.

Patrick advised that the preferred site for the lake is in northern Morehouse Parish, near Chemin-a-haut State Park. Bayou Bartholomew will not be affected by the lake, "However, we are hoping that Chemin-a-haut creek can be a feeder stream for the lake, We have many steps to go through before we get this approved. The Corps of Engineers must tell us if the site will be suitable or unsuitable," said Patrick.

Mike Thompson excited about Poverty Point Lake

by Marq Mitcham, Staff writer  Jun. 19, 2002;

Mike Thompson, executive director of the Poverty Point Reservoir District, gets excited when discussing his pet project, Poverty Point Lake.

Located two miles north of Delhi, the 3,000-acre lake is the fruition of a long-term plan.

First of all, the lake is a source of drinking water. As an added bonus, the lake provides a shot in the arm to a rural economy as well as recreational opportunities.

"It's not like a plant that can shut its doors," Thompson said. "This lake will be here for generations to come."

Thompson says the first seeds for the lake were planted in the early 1970s when a study correctly projected a dwindling water level in aquifers throughout the state.

"(Lake Poverty Point) was built for a water reservoir, to take pressure off the aquifers and to restore surface water," said Thompson, the former Executive Assistant for Rural Development under Gov. Buddy Roemer. "The economic development and recreation are by-products."

Thompson, the former mayor of Delhi, is doing his best to make sure that the economic opportunities are not wasted. A recent study projected that 30 percent of the people using the lake will be from out-of-state.

"We're the only lake (in Louisiana) on an interstate," Thompson said. "We have all the opportunities to put together the complete package."

Projects for the area include an active retirement community, a golf course as part of the Audobon golf trail, and, naturally, fishing.

"We're going to have a championship trophy bass lake," Thompson said. "We've been pre-stocking fish since 1997. People want have to wait two or three years to fish."

Built with capital outlay funds, Poverty Point Lake is approximately twice the size of Lake Providence. Actual construction began in 1996, and the lake was filled with water from April-October.

District 14 State Representative Charles McDonald is heading a group studying the feasibility of bringing a similar lake to Morehouse Parish. As was the case with Poverty Point, a lake for Morehouse Parish would not be an overnight occurrence.

"It's not an overnight project. People aren't going to wake up one morning and have a new lake filled with water," McDonald said.

McDonald feels a new lake would benefit the parish tremendously.

"It could be a source of drinking water for the entire parish," McDonald said. "If you can build a lake, economic development goes with it. People come into the area, spend their money, and the economy picks up. It's just an example of what can be done in a rural community."

Locals tour area Reservoir  May. 1, 2002;

by Amanda Hill Houston, Staff writer

A delegation from Morehouse Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO) traveled to Poverty Point Reservoir near Delhi, to tour the lake and visit with Mike Thompson, Executive Director of Poverty Point Reservoir, who gave them a tour of the 3,000-acre lake and surrounding areas.

The group included Leo Nelson, James Madison, Henry Cotton, Mayor Mike Lytle of Bonita and Richard Patrick, MEDCO Executive Director.

"Sen. Robert Barham assures us that capital outlay funding will be approved for the initial site activity, lake design and preparation. We expect to have that money available around August," said Patrick.

Presently, MEDCO is in the process of forming a lake commission to identify suitable areas for the new lake. Afterwards, they will give the data they have gathered on probable locations to the Army Corps of Engineers, who will then do environmental impact studies, identifying the pros and cons of each site, to narrow the selection down even further.

"After all this is done we will select a site," said Patrick.

Patrick stated that fresh water would the first priority for the lake. "This will give some relief to the aquifer, and we will be able to furnish water to the surrounding areas," said Patrick.

Thompson advised, "We are getting 75-100 million gallons of water a month for consumption from our lake, roughly about 1/2 off the surface of the lake."

Economic impact is also a major consideration in the development of the project. "This lake should create about 300 jobs during the construction phase and after completion, about 60 permanent jobs. The economic impact to the community will be about $7-8 million per year after the lake is completed," said Patrick.

Patrick said that it was important that MEDCO act now, because the state will only fund 3.5 more lakes. "We are looking at replicating what they've done in Delhi with their new lake."

Thompson advised that their Lake Commission was created in 1992, and began receiving funds at that time. The land acquisitions were in 1996 and that is when construction began. The lake was completed in 2000. "We did it in record time," said Thompson.

"As soon as the commission is set up we'll have an organizational meeting on how to proceed. We're looking at 8-10 years until completion of the project," said Patrick.

Courtesy Photo

Touring Lake Poverty Point

Included in the MEDCO delegation visiting Lake Poverty Point were (from left) Mike Lytle, Leo Nelson, MEDCO Executive Director Richard Patrick, Poverty Point Executive Director Mike Thompson, Henry Cotton and James Madison. Patrick said the Morehouse Parish lake should be very similar to Lake Poverty Point.

Thompson bill  Jul. 3, 2002;

State Representative Francis Thompson passed legislation during the recently concluded regular session that offers incentives to developers of retirement communities.

The legislation authorizes the State Board of Commerce and Industry to enter into ad valorem tax exemption contracts with the developers. The contract would have to be recommended by the Department of Economic Development and approved by the governor, the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget and the local governing authority.

A new housing development or a renovation to an existing housing development being constructed or renovated for qualified retirees (over the age of 55) would be eligible. Contracts may not exceed five years and may be renewed for one additional five-year period.

Thompson said the legislation "will encourage development and will help to spur economic development. We want to keep our retirees in the state, just as we want to keep our young people from moving away. By encouraging development, these incentives will also provide good paying construction jobs, something that we desperately need in our state."

House Bill 64, which is a constitutional amendment, must be approved by the voters this fall. The enabling legislation, House Bill 84, is awaiting action by the governor.

Board OKs application for bonds

By JACOB CUNNINGHAM Staff Writer Jul. 9, 2004;

The Bastrop Board of Aldermen gave their approval to the city's application to sell $1.5 million in bonds.

Mayor Clarence Hawkins said the bonds - to be repaid with sales and property tax revenue collected later this year and early next year - are needed to help the city meet expenses.

Hawkins said this loan is not an attempt to solve some financial problem, it's simply what municipalities do to fund the city in the time before taxes come in, and that it's not an unusual action for municipalities.

The board also heard a report from the Morehouse Economic Development Corporation regarding the construction of a lake in the parish in their regular meeting Thursday night.

MEDCO's Richard Patrick informed the aldermen that the money that was collected for the project will pay for the ongoing research through 2005.

"The lake is our priority", Patrick said, "and it's going quite well."

Currently there is a two phase plan for the lake, phase one will be 5,500 acre lake in Morehouse Parish that will cost between 20 and 25 million dollars. Phase two will increase the size of the lake to 12,500 acres extending it into Arkansas. If all goes well, phase one of the plan could be completed by 2010-2011. Patrick stated that Congressman Alexander is a firm supporter of the lake and that they are very appreciative of him.

Patrick also said the group is working on preliminary plans to put part of the proposed Interstate 530 through Morehouse Parish. He also reported that work on improvements to U.S. 425 are going well, and MEDCO is working to create a small business incubator for the city.

The board also passed an ordinance that allowed the city to move forward on a one-year Fannie Mae Loan program that will assist in the construction of houses in the city.

Another ordinance passed Thursday night increased the price of a single burial plot in a public cemetery from $250 to $300. Mayor Hawkins spoke to the board saying that the price is still far less than that of public cemeteries in surrounding cities.

"When you think about a space that has perpetual care, this is not bad at all," Hawkins said.

Hawkins made a statement before the board saying that the city is committed to mosquito control and that another spray truck has been added to cover the city effectively. Hawkins stated that another truck was needed because of all of the standing water left from the recent rain.

The board heard presentations from several citizens who came foreword to keep property from being demolished. The board decided to keep the properties on the list for demolition but agreed to give the citizens 60 days to make substantial improvements to the property, at which time the properties would be taken off the list. Fire Prevention Chief Boyd and Fire Chief McKee spoke to those citizens privately concerning the requirements that will have to be met.

Locals ask Alexander for lake assistance

By MARK S. RAINWATER Enterprise Editor  Jul. 7, 2004;

Fifth District Rep. Rodney Alexander said if area residents and tourists want to fish and ski on the proposed Plum Lake Reservoir, that's well and good.

But the Quitman Democrat says if area leaders want federal help with the $30 million project, it had better be pitched as a solution to problems with drinking water.

Alexander met last week with members of the lake commission and other business leaders to discuss possible federal assistance with the project. Alexander said he has talked with Mayor Clarence Hawkins and others about the project and feels the "human cost" is the best tact to take.

"Looking at how it could help the (International Paper Louisiana Mill) and the Sparta aquifer is the way to approach it," Alexander said. "If people want to go boat riding and fishing and all that stuff, that's nice too."

Richard Patrick, chairman of the lake commission, said the lake can also serve as an economic catalyst for a region that has "an unhealthy dependence" on International Paper.

"This lake could create a $12 million dollar economic impact on the parish and generate 150 new jobs. That's why this needs to be on the fast track," Patrick said.

With state dollars at a premium, state Rep. Charles McDonald said federal money is drastically needed for the project to move from the drawing board.

"There's no question with our budget situation the next couple of years will be tough," McDonald said. "We can get what limited state funding their is, but we need help at the federal level."

Alexander said he would work with the lake commission and members of the Legislature in preparation of an application next year for permits needed from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for construction of the lake.

Denmon Engineering Company of Monroe is handling the planning and design work. Randy Denmon, whose company also did the design work for Poverty Point Reservoir, said preliminary plans for the 5,400-acre lake should be completed by early fall.

The lake, which would hold 25 billion gallons of water, would have over 50 miles of shoreline. After initially using water from Bayou Bartholomew, rainwater and runoff would be used to fill the lake to its 25 billion gallon capacity. The lakes ability to recharge 30 million gallons daily would help offset the use of more than 14 billion gallons daily from the Sparta Aquifer.

Local projects get full funding

By Bastrop Daily Enterprise Staff Jun. 23, 2004;

Lagniappe, in Louisiana, has grown to mean getting or giving a little something extra.

The Morehouse Council on Aging fits the definition after Rep. Charles McDonald was able to add $10,000 to the $36,000 previously allocated for capital improvements at its Washburn Street complex.

The added money was part of what McDonald and other members of the House of Representatives were able to put back into the two pieces of legislation that provide revenue for capital projects before the legislative session ended yesterday afternoon.

"Based on the funds that were available, I'm very pleased we were able to get what we did," McDonald said. "For all of our projects, these funds put us well on the way to seeing them completed."

Primary among the local projects is $300,000 for further work on the Plum Lake reservoir project. The money, McDonald said, will be used to finish studies and begin actual planning of the project.

"This also puts us in line for trailing money next year that can be used for property acquisition and to begin the actual construction. It's a project that will have a significant impact on the parish," McDonald said.

Another $350,000 in funding was secured for the planning and construction of an equine center on the fair grounds property off U.S. 165. Coupled with the $350,000 previously received, McDonald said the allocation "puts us well on the way to the realization of that project."

Earlier this month, the Morehouse Parish Police Jury began accepting bids for construction of a new farmers' market on West Madison. That work will be funded, in part, through a $150,000 outlay in House Bill 1.

The parish and city's beautification efforts are also a beneficiary of the outlay process, in line for $6,000 to help create entranceways into the city.

First hurdle cleared in project funding

By MARK S. RAINWATER Enterprise Editor  May. 26, 2004;

Vicky Carpenter is unabashed.

"I cried tears of joy when I got the e-mail," said Carpenter, president of the Friends of Main Street when she learned State Rep. Charles McDonald had secured $150,000 in funds for the Bastrop Farmers' Market project.

McDonald, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, met Monday afternoon with committee chairman Rep. John Alario to ensure amendments for the Farmers' Market and other area projects were included in House Bill 1, which provides cash for capital outlay projects. House Bill 2, the general capital outlay bill, uses money from the sale of bonds to provide funding for projects.

McDonald was also successful in securing $350,000 in H.B. 1 for the equine center and $36,500 in funding for work on the older portion of the Morehouse Council on Aging. Beautification efforts in the city and parish will be aided by $6,000 in capital outlay cash, $2,000 in funds through the Office of Rural Development and an additional $2,000 through an amendment to the bill offered by Rep. Francis Thompson.

"We got around $500,000 in capital outlay funding, which is good because there's not going to be any new projects funded," McDonald said.

An additional $300,000 for the Plum Lake Reservoir project will come, McDonald said, through H.B. 2 because the funds were committed last year.

The money for the Council on Aging made agency director Reggie DeFreese "a happy, happy man" Tuesday morning. DeFreese said McDonald had tried to get funds to replace the asbestos tile roof on the council's older structure when he secured rural development funds for the new building opened earlier this year. The actual cost of a new roof, DeFreese said, was just over $10,000 but another $25,000 was needed to remove the asbestos.

"That's the original roof on the building that goes back to 1927," DeFreese said. "We were having problems with it, so I got really excited when he called this morning."

McDonald said he was hopeful another $350,000 for the equine center could be added to the bill when the Senate begins its consideration of capital outlay projects. He joked that after hearing Sen. Robert Barham take Gov. Kathleen Blanco to task on the Senate floor Monday for her failure to meet with President Bush during his visit to Baton Rouge last week, "I told Robert he may not have any chips he can bargain with any more."

McDonald pitching for project funding

By Bastrop Daily Enterprise  May. 24, 2004;

State Rep. Charles McDonald is "cautiously optimistic" funds for area projects can be salvaged in the Legislature's capital outlay process.

McDonald, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, said this morning Commissioner of Administration Jerry Luke LeBlanc is going to give committee members a definitive figure on how much revenue will be available for projects. Later today, committee chairman Rep. John Alario will meet with representatives who have offered amendments to the capital outlay budget to determine what projects will be funded.

"There's a lot of people who won't get anything, but we're going to stay in there pitching our projects," McDonald said.

Once Alario has heard from legislators, committee staff will draft a final proposal on what projects get how much funding.

McDonald is pushing that funds for two projects - $150,000 for completion of the farmers' market and $1.2 million for construction of an equine center - can be included in a portion of capital outlay that provides cash for projects. If included, McDonald said the money for both projects would be available shortly after the state's fiscal year starts on July 1.

He is also seeking more funding for the Plum Lake reservoir project that would he included in the portion of the outlay bill that is funded through the sale of bonds.

In addition to the equine center and farmers' market, McDonald and Rep. Francis Thompson are also seeking outlay funds for projects that will tie into the Community Clean-Up project held last weekend.

"If we're successful, there would be $8,000 for the city and $10,000 for the parish to use in programs that will help us deal with the blighted areas that are along the entrances to the city," McDonald said. "It's important that we do all we can to create an environment that will allow us to try and attract new jobs to the area."

Fate of funding could be known tonight

By MARK S. RAINWATER Enterprise Editor  May. 20, 2004;

The fate of funding from the Louisiana Legislature for two area projects should be known by this evening.

The full House of Representatives will consider House Bill 1 - the general budget - and House Bill 2, which handles capital outlay projects and then take the bills to joint House and Senate committees in efforts to get the bills passed tonight.

Rep. Charles McDonald said with committee meetings during the morning, being on the House floor after lunch and back into committee meetings later in the afternoon makes for a full day's work.

"I told someone earlier during the session after a day like today - 12 to 14 hours - that I'm glad this is just a part-time job," McDonald said.

McDonald said he is hopeful funds for the farmers' market and equine center projects will be included in a portion of capital outlay projects that provides cash rather than dependence on bond revenue.

"If we can get these handled that way, we can get the funds shortly after July 1," McDonald said. "If they're included in the bond issues, it takes time for the bond commission to consider the applications, issue the bonds and receive the revenue."

For the farmers' market, McDonald is seeking $150,000. For the equine center, he is asking for $1.2 million.

The Plum Lake reservoir project could be included in the bonded portion of capital outlay funding. McDonald has asked for $300,000 in funding for the next phase of work on the project.

"We were able to get some money for the reservoir last year and had $300,000 in Priority 2 funding," McDonald said. "This is the follow through from last year."

The House will consider the budget and capital outlay bills beginning at 3 p.m., followed by joint budget committee meetings at 5 p.m. Depending on the progress made during the joint budget meetings, the House could vote on the two bills around 7 p.m., McDonald said.

Vision group gets progress reports

Staff report  Apr. 21, 2004;

They're helping shape the future of Morehouse Parish, and they want you to know what they're doing.

Formed last year, the community vision group holds monthly meetings to address a variety of issues its members feel are vital to the present and future of Morehouse Parish.

"We asked members of the (Bastrop-Morehouse) chamber, the (Morehouse Economic Development Corp.), the city of Bastrop, the (Morehouse Parish) Police Jury and the city (of Bastrop) to take part, said International Paper Louisiana Mill spokesman Kinny Haddox. "Those groups touch everyone in the parish."

Mill manager Greg Van Voorhis, who chairs the group, said they feel it is important to keep the public apprised of the group's efforts and progress.

"In order for us to build the broad-based support we feel is vital to making these programs work, we want the media to take part and tell the public what it is we're trying to achieve."

In a document prepared in December, the group states that its "goal is simple.

"Work to make our cities and Morehouse Parish thriving, growing communities with a better quality of life for its residents. By sharing information, developing common goals and working together and supporting each other, we can accomplish this. Every resident in Morehouse Parish can play a part," the group states is its purpose.

Haddox said coordination of efforts was one of the driving forces behind the group's formation.

"Rather than have five people working on the same task, none of them really knowing what the others might be doing, we felt if we brought these groups together and had two people working toward a goal that a great deal more could get accomplished," Haddox said.

The group lists six strategies it hopes to help facilitate:

Delineate and coordinate the economic development responsibilities between the chamber and MEDCO;

Designation as a retirement ready community;

Creation and execution of a Plum Lake strategic plan;

Establish an education environment that provides a highly skilled workforce who are lifelong learners in the community;

Ownership of homes that are decent and affordable for residents; and

Planning and creation of a "Gateway to Bastrop" plan.

The gateway project and the related city-wide cleanup day planned for May 22 were the primary focus of the group's meeting Monday. Cindy Hendrix, who is overseeing the effort, said letters have been sent to chamber members and businesses throughout the parish asking them to take part in the effort. Hendrix also stated that, to date, six churches in the parish have agreed to take part in a part of the project where houses will be rehabilitated through cleanup efforts.

Bastrop Mayor Clarence Hawkins also gave an update on the city's efforts in creating affordable housing for residents. Hawkins said the city has been talking with developers to identify areas where housing developments could possibly be located. He also said the city is working with the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency to secure local-match funds for federal housing programs.

Morehouse Parish School superintendent Richard Hartley reported the goal of having each school in the parish adopted by a business has been achieved. He also said the system had completed a project where all eighth-grade students are required to complete a five-year plan, outlining what types of education courses they will take during high school and their plans for their first year after high school graduation.

Ivory Smith, member of the Morehouse Parish Reservoir Commission, said the Monroe engineering firm of Denmon and Associates had identified three potential sites for the proposed Plum Lake. Smith said cost considerations would likely see the group select a site where the lake would be exclusively located in Louisiana. Another plan, with the lake would reach into southern Arkansas, would more than double the projected $25 million cost of the

project.

Van Voorhis said the potential that could be realized through the group and communities efforts might have a substantial impact on the parish's future.

"To be able to bring all these groups and these people together is very encouraging about the future we can help shape for Morehouse Parish," Van Voorhis said.

Alexander introduces resevoir legislation  May. 16, 2003;

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Congressman Rodney Alexander (D-Quitman) Thursday met with Bastrop Mayor Clarence W. Hawkins to announce that he has introduced legislation in the 108th Congress which would allow the creation of a reservoir to supply Bastrop and Morehouse Parish a supplemental water source for the Sparta aquifer.

"Water is the substance of life. With a steady water supply, any community can thrive; without it, every community would die," said Alexander. "This legislation that I introduced will allow Bastrop and all of Morehouse Parish to continue to thrive despite the growing water demands placed on our communities."

Hawkins agreed, "In addition to supplying potable water, this reservoir will provide an economic stimulus to this region. We applaud Rep. Alexander for taking this proactive step in helping remedy this situation in Northeast Louisiana. This is the kind of representation that we expected and I'm happy to see that our expectations are being fulfilled."

Alexander's bill, H.R. 2091, authorizes the Secretary of the Army to instruct the Army Corps of Engineers to carry out a project for water supply for Morehouse Parish. The plan is for a reservoir with a storage capacity of 1,151,700,000 cubic feet or 8,616,000,000 gallons of water. The reservoir, drawing water from the Chemin-A-Haut Bayou, would be able to provide an estimated 23 billion gallons of water a year; which is enough to provide for all of Morehouse Parish's residents, businesses and industry.

Currently, aquifers, such as the Sparta aquifer, are the only sources of water for Morehouse Parish. In fact, the Sparta aquifer a major source of ground water for all or part of 15 parishes in North-Central Louisiana.

Those sources of water have been in use since the early 1900's and demand has steadily increased, resulting in a steady increase of overall water usage; first for industry and more recently for public supply. In 2000, Louisiana's water usage from the Sparta aquifer represented a 37 percent increase over the 1985 usage. Currently the Sparta aquifer's water level is declining an estimated two feet per year and the rate of replenishment is insufficient to sustain consumption rates over the next ten to fifteen years.

"Building a reservoir will lift the increasing burden we are placing on our natural water resources and allow Bastrop and all of Morehouse Parish to continue to thrive," said Alexander. "I'm glad to be able to do something to help the people and industry of Morehouse Parish."

Economic study of a parish lake commissioned by MEDCO

staff report  Dec. 18, 2002;

Morehouse Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO) President Richard Patrick announced today that the Morehouse Parish Lake Committee has commissioned an economic impact study to identify and quantify the economic benefits that the development of a parish reservoir will generate.

Patrick stated that development of a Morehouse Parish Reservoir is critical to our future. "The scarcity of potable water will become a reality in the foreseeable future and a parish lake would ensure our citizens of a reliable, and sustainable, source of drinking water, provide a dependable supply of water for our industries and provide relief to the aquifer. It will also serve as an economic development engine that will revitalize the parish's growth and create jobs for its citizens," said Patrick.

The Economic Impact Study will be performed by Drs. Robert C. Eisenstadt and Paul Nelson of the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Dr. Eisenstadt is Head, Department of Economics and Finance at ULM and Dr. Nelson is a Professor of Economics at that same university. The study began in November and is scheduled for completion in February.

Parish on list for funding

by P.J. Jones, Enterprise Editor  May. 10, 2002;

Probably the largest state capital outlay funding request in the history of Morehouse Parish has made its way into Gov. Mike Foster's capital outlay budget, which was introduced Thursday in Baton Rouge, according to Rep. Charles McDonald.

In an early morning call from Baton Rouge, Rep. McDonald said this is probably the biggest request ever made for Morehouse Parish. "The whole delegation here has been very supportive on these requests and I have to commend Sen. Robert Barham, Rep. Jay McCallum and Rep. Francis Thompson for showing their support.

"We've never gotten this kind of community support for funding requests before and this shows that by the community working with their legislators what can be accomplished. It also shows our communities they have people in Baton Rouge working for them," McDonald continued.

Some of the funding requests are renewals, according to McDonald, and some are new requests for funding and planning studies.

Requests for capital outlay for Morehouse Parish includes:

n Louisiana Technical College/Bastrop Campus -- Airport Campus and repairs, $1,505 million.

-Reservoir Planning for Morehouse Parish -- $20,000 for a study.

-Equine Center Planning -- $100,000.

-Police Jury Public Works Building, planning and construction -- $140,000.

-Industrial Park, planning -- $35,000.

-Police Jury Juvenile Detention Center Facility -- $150,000.

-Acquisition and renovation of industrial building (Ditto Building) -- $1 million.

-Morehouse Council on Aging Building -- $180,000.

The planning money is used to determine the feasibility of some of these projects for the parish. If the reports are good, next year funding will be sought for construction of these projects, McDonald said. He also noted that it is always good to get these projects "up-front" in the proposed budget, rather than waiting to get them in the amended budget.

"Sen. Barham and I are currently working on a couple of projects for cash funding for the city and parish," McDonald said. "Next week will be a busy week for all of us in Baton Rouge, because we think the governor will sign the budget by Friday (May 17).

"I will try to get a Bastrop Main Street project funded every year so the program can continue to grow. The Main Street program has become a special project for me and I look forward to working with the volunteers on these projects," McDonald concluded.

The view from Bonita

By Barbara Vail  Jan. 24, 2001;

The prospect of a lake or reservoir being located in Morehouse Parish has Bonita officials excited. Such an undertaking will very likely alleviate the predicted water shortage, attract people and businesses associated with outdoor activities, and consequently, provide additional employment to the area.

The Sparta Aquifer, which provides underground drinking water serving northeast Louisiana, falls each year. Experts warn that something must be done or we will be faced with a severe shortage.

Mike Lytle, Mayor of Bonita, has put together a proposal, offering data and facts as to why Bonita would be the ideal location for such an enterprise. Besides the logical advantages, think how beautiful a lake or reservoir will be, and what a lovely addition it would be to the northeast corner of the parish. If you have an opinion, ideas or interest, give Mike a call at 823-2128.

Congratulations is extended to Tavaris Sanders, recently home from the hospital where he underwent major surgery. Tavaris worked for the Village of Bonita last summer. He was selected on the All Morehouse Football Team. He attends school at Delta and is the son of Beverly Sanders.

Sympathy is extended to the family of Esta Freeland. Thinking of you wishes go to Kitty Johnson, Eloise Means, Delie Bonner, and Kaki McCready.

Bonita Police Chief Lee Cleveland returned from a most fascinating jaunt he makes each year. Flying into Los Angeles, Lee then rented a 4-Wheel drive vehicle and drove to Parker, Az., where he joined approximately 99 others at the Parker Indian Reservation. For six days the group fished for bass, catfish, blue gill and German carp. Everyone enjoyed daily fish and evening recreation including trips into town, to area restaurants, to dances and to the local casino. The weather cooperated and Lee boasted of having had a really good time. He said the group consists of both men and women and provides good clean fun and fellowship. He and his late brother Earl Cleveland first went fishing at Parker Indian Reservation 21 years ago, and it has been growing ever since. The group reserves the Star Dust Hotel a year in advance.

New Hope Baptist church closed out their Winter Revival Wednesday night with a barbecue supper following the services. Pastoring New Hope is Rev. Larry Linson. Special music was provided by Tim Post and Katherine Tubbs. Rev. Mickey Bounds of Farmerville served as Evangelist for the services.

Members of the Jones-McGinty Board of Directors held a brief meeting this past Wednesday night. Feb. 22 is the date set for the annual Stockholders meeting. Scheduled for 6:30, p.m., it will be held at the Jones-Producer's Gin office.

My sister Jan, a florist, is making a flower buying trip to New York City this weekend where she will stay at a hotel on Times Square. The exciting part of her trip will be meeting our cousin Mike Sarik who resides at the Time Square Apartments. While doing some genealogy research over the Internet, Jan and I came across Mike several years ago, a cousin we had never before met. Since then we have been corresponding regularly and at least she and Mike will meet in person. Mike celebrated a birthday the fourth of this month.

Jon McNeil, who has a special talent doing diversified accents, has been amusing himself by changing the message on my answering machine each week. He started with a take-off on Roy D. Mercer, a Tulsa, Okla., radio personality and comedian with eight albums that feature his own brand of humor that includes a number of humorous prank telephone calls. Roy D. Mercer can be found at ROYDMERCER.COM

The second message initially sounded dignified, advising callers to wait for the tone, and then tossing dignity to the wind, Jon said, "Remember, wait for the tone. Here it comes. Right now. Now... Right.. Now." Last week, in a strong red-neck accent, he advised if callers didn't leave a message we'd have to sic the hound dogs on them. This week a Cajun warns callers who don't leave a message they my very well become alligator bait. As a result, I get a lot of laughter and in fact, by the third answer machine message, the only thing my sister Jan was able to say was, "He's so funny! He's so funny!" I never did find out exactly what she called for!

Give your bookkeeper, accountant or tax person a hand at this time of year. When December 31 rolls around, he has to go into high hear dealing with end of the month, end of the quarter and end of the year stuff. Between my back surgery and now a new wrinkle: Meniere's Disease, I have been running behind getting everything accomplished by its deadline.

Meniere's Disease, or Syndrome, is an ailment affecting the inner ear. Symptoms included severe attacks of vertigo (dizziness), accompanied by nausea and vomiting, tinnitus (ear noise), muffled or distorted hearing and hearing loss. My first severe attack came this past Thursday and resulted in having to call Med-Life to be taken to Morehouse General E.R. The next morning I made a visit to the office of Dr. Webb in Mer Rouge and then back to the E.R. on Saturday. Armed with anti-nausea and dizziness medication, I am hoping to resume life normally for awhile at least. I know more episodes are likely but I hope they won't be quite so debilitating as this attack was.

Eloise Means e-mailed an amusing joke to me about a lady whose husband presented her a cell phone as a gift. Checking the phone out, the husband placed a call to his blonde (of course) wife shortly thereafter. The wife answered the ringing and in utter amazement asked her husband, "How on earth did you know I was at Wal-Mart?

Speaking of cell phones, normally they provide safety and security, unless you live way up here in the Northeast corner where users have so much dead space due to lack of tower strength, and then much of the time they are useless. Having my third attack of vertigo in as much as many days, Dr. Webb advised I come to the E.R. Saturday morning. Jon was just driving out of the drive-way and I attempted to phone him and not until he was almost to Bonita was the cell phone able to pick up the signal of my phone call. Its too bad a tower isn't located in our area, providing users a stronger signal.

If you are a cell phone user and have this same problem, perhaps calls and letters to the cell phone server in our area would be beneficial. Remember the adage of squeaky wheels getting the grease.

If you have news, a joke, or comment, please give me a call at 318-823-2668 or 823-2128.

 

Morehouse Parish Police Jury

P.O. Box 509
Bastrop, LA 71221-0509
Phone: (318) 281-4132
Fax: (318) 283-1243

E-mail: eagreer@northeastnet.net
Area Information & Web Links

 

 

President .......................................... Mr. Jerry Johnson

Vice President .................................... Mr. Terry Matthews

Parish Engineer ......................... McManus Consulting Engineers

Secretary ............................................ Mr. E. A. Greer

Treasurer ...................................... Mrs. Jeanette Johnson

District Attorney .................................... Mr. Jerry Jones

Road Superintendent ................................ Mr. Glen Phillips

 

Members

 

District 1 ............................................. Mr. Ben White

  12005 Yeldell Road, Bastrop, LA 71220

District 2 ...................................... Mr. Harry Reese, Sr.

  P. O. Box 280, Mer Rouge, LA 71261

District 3 ......................................... Mr. Jerry Johnson

  10730 McCreight Street, Bastrop, LA 71220

District 4 ..................................... Mr. D. W. Thomas, Jr.

  6425 Airport Rd, Bastrop, LA 71220

District 5 ......................................... Mr. Bernie Turner

  495 Orion Drive, Bastrop, LA 71220

District 6 ........................................ Mr. Terry Matthews

  1003 Commerce Ave., Bastrop, LA 71220

District 7 .......................................... Mr. Lee E. Loche

  412 W Hickory Ave, Bastrop, LA 71220

 

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Firm reports on Sparta Aquifer

Firm reports on Sparta Aquifer

by Derek Gea, Staff Write  Jun. 4, 2002;

Representatives from Meyer, Meyer, LaCroix and Hixson, a firm of consulting engineers and land surveyors, were in Morehouse Parish Monday to discuss with city and parish leaders the dwindling levels of the Sparta Aquifer in northeast Louisiana.

MMLH was hired by the Louisiana State Legislature to study the effects of the dwindling aquifer and propose methods to reverse the trend. The Sparta Aquifer provides water for a 16-parish area in northeast Louisiana. Bastrop Mayor Clarence Hawkins along with Police Juror Stan Neathery, Police Jury Secretary Elva Greer and Fernado Calvo of People's Water Service were in attendance.

Thomas D. Hixson of MMLH reported to the officials that presently 70 million gallons of water a day are taken from the Sparta Aquifer and the levels of the Aquifer are dropping around a foot per year at the current rate of usage. Hixson said that in order to reverse this trend water is going to have to be used at a lesser rate from the aquifer.

"In order to receive restoration we need to reduce water usage to 52 million gallons a day. That is 18 million gallons less than we have been using over the 16 parish area," Hixson said.

Hixson said it is important that this situation be corrected as soon as possible because as the aquifer water levels go down the sand that holds the water is displaced and can cause compacting. This compacting in the sediment makes it harder for surface water to replenish the aquifer. Thomas said he fears that as the water from the Sparta Aquifer is depleted that underground salt water will move in to replace it and possibly cripple the drinking water supply in the eastern areas that the aquifer services.

Calvo, manager at Peoples Water Service, said he estimates that 18 percent of Bastrop's water comes from the Sparta Aquifer.

"We need to replace 18 million gallons of the water used from the aquifer with surface water to reverse the trend." Hixson said. He said that water needed to be gathered at five separate locations. The firm proposed that one of the locations be placed in Morehouse Parish which would use about four million gallons a day out of the Ouachita River. They are also proposing that water be taken from D'Arbonne Lake, Caney Creek Lake, Lake Bisteneau and from another location at the Ouachita River in West Monroe.

Over the years water usage from the Sparta Aquifer has been on a downturn. In 1980 Morehouse Parish used 10.6 million gallons a day, in 1985, around the closing of the old mill, usage was down to 4.77 million gallons of water per day in 1999 water usage was 4.7 million gallons per day and in 2000 the water usage was down to 2.7 million gallons of water per day. But despite usage being down, usage needs to decline even more to replenish the aquifer

Hixson said it is going to cost in the neighborhood of $200 million to build the five water plants. MMLH asked that the city and parish governmental bodies begin working on a cooperative plan to conserve water and address the construction of a Ouachita River pumping station.

Representatives from MMLH are expected to address the Morehouse Parish Police Jury and the Bastrop Board of Aldermen concerning the issue in the coming months.